Do I Have To...? The Milgram Experiment

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When I think over all the things I have learned this year in Psych 1001, one of the first things that come to mind as something that I will remember down the line is definitely when we learned about the famous Milgram Experiment. The participants were told to administer electric shocks on the subjects taking the test. Each wrong response by the person "in the other room" results in a higher shock administered on them by the participants. As the voltages increased, an unbelievable thing happens. Even though they can hear the "painful" reactions of the person they believe is taking their test, amazingly the participants continue to proceed with the process. All because the experimenters claim it is absolutely necessary to go all the way until the words were learned. When watching this, it is shocking to see that just because they are told to continue by an authority figure, the participants shock the learner under the impression they could be seriously injured.

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It is very hard to imagine that people would act like this, and wonder if you yourself could act similarly in like situations. It is unreal that 62% of participants administered what would have been lethal shock to the learners. I bet most people would never believe they would go that far, but more than half would be wrong...

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The Milgram Study was shocking to me as well because it takes obedience to the extreme...obviously we're told to respect and listen to authority figures (like teachers, police officers, etc.) but I think to what extent is the major question. I don't think I would blindly follow someones order's, especially if that person was a stranger. But, I guess you never know until your presented with the situation. The fact that 62% of participants finished the study is alarming because you don't think that many people would knowingly harm strangers...puts a new perspective on people I guess.

The Milgram Study was one of the most shocking things to me in all of our Psychology class. This is definitely a controversial issue because if people in our society abide by orders that they know are wrong, it shows how our minds work in ways that do not comply towards the goodness of others. It is almost more unthinkable that they harming people they have never met.

The Milgram Study is definitely a disconcerting picture of the possible consequences of obedience to an authority figure. I wonder if there are other causes of such behavior. Maybe the study's participants were more inclined to continue with the task because the experimenter was in the same room, giving somewhat of a proximity effect. Or maybe because they knew him to be an "expert," they were more obliged to believe him or her.

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This page contains a single entry by lyons206 published on April 30, 2012 10:38 PM.

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